Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla (TSLA.O)and the founder of Alibaba (BABA.N) Jack Ma talked about Mars and AI but steered clear of the U.S.-China trade war when they appeared on Thursday, which disappointed some of the audience members.
Their conversation was live-streamed and was part of the opening events for the annual World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) in Shanghai.
They talked for over half an hour about their vision of how technology, especially artificial intelligence, will affect the future.
“I’m always amazed by your vision of technology, I’m not a tech guy,” Ma said to Musk, and then continued to talk about how he thinks that artificial intelligence is not a threat.
Ma said that he is “optimistic” about AI and the effect it will have on humanity, and added that people who are too worried have the “college smartness. People like us that are street smart, we’re not scared of that.”
They covered the topic of space travel as well, with Ma complimenting Musk on his efforts to journey into Mars via SpaceX, whereas Musk mentioned China’s advancements in that area, as well as how “inadequate” humans were against computers.
One of the Tech employees Simon Zhang, who attended the event, told Reuters that he got the impression that Musk, who arrived in Shanghai in the morning, was suffering from jet lag. “The conversation was not as exciting as I expected,” he said. “They were each talking about their own separate topics.”
Another audience member, named Cheney, was also disappointed. “People were looking forward to this. But what Musk said about artificial intelligence he has said millions of times before, and Jack Ma was just being Jack Ma,” Cheney said.
Chinese website Sina Technology mentioned that Musk at times appeared at a loss for words. “The opening of the ‘Double Ma Meeting’ was a bit cold,” it said, referring to the Mandarin Chinese translation of Musk’s name.